Reports of battle-associated stress appear as early as the 6th century BC. Although PTSD-like symptoms have also been recognized in combat veterans of many military conflicts since, the modern understanding of PTSD dates from the 1970s, largely as a result of the problems that were still being experienced by Vietnam veterans.

The term post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD was created in the mid 1970s. Early in 1978, the term was used in a working group finding presented to the Committee of Reactive Disorders. The term was formally recognised in 1980. (In the DSM-IV, which is considered authoritative, the spelling "posttraumatic stress disorder" is used. Elsewhere, "posttraumatic" is often rendered as two words — "post-traumatic stress disorder" or "post traumatic stress disorder" — especially in less formal writing on the subject.)

The diagnosis was removed from the DSM-II, which resulted in the inability of Vietnam veterans to receive benefits for this condition. In part through the efforts of anti vietnam war activists and the anti war group Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Chaim F. Shatan, who worked with them and coined the term post-Vietnam Syndrome, the condition was added to the DSM-III as posttraumatic stress disorder.

In the United States, the provision of compensation to veterans for PTSD is under review by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The review was begun in 2005 after the VA had noted a 30% increase in PTSD claims in recent years. The VA undertook the review because of budget concerns and apparent inconsistencies in the awarding of compensation by different rating offices.

This led to a backlash from veterans'-rights groups, and to some highly-publicized suicides by veterans who feared losing their benefits, which in some cases constituted their only income. In response, on November 10, 2005, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs announced that "the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will not review the files of 72,000 veterans currently receiving disability compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder..."

The diagnosis of PTSD has been a subject of some controversy due to uncertainties in objectively diagnosing PTSD in those who may have been exposed to trauma, and due to this diagnosis' association with some incidence of compensation-seeking behavior.

The social stigma of PTSD may result in under-representation of the disorder in military personnel, emergency service workers and in societies where the specific trauma-causing event is stigmatized (i.e. sexual assault).

Because of the United States soldiers in combat in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers returning home have faced significant physical, emotional and relational disruptions, with the United States Marine Corps has instituted programs to assist soldiers in re-adjusting to life, and in particular marriage, outside of the army.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder / PTSD. The Official Guide to Post-Taumatic Stress Disorder / PTSD is Jef Gazley.

Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT, DCC has practiced psychotherapy for over thirty-three years and is the owner operator of www.asktheinternettherapist.com since 1998 and www.hypnosistapes4health.com. He has been practicing energy psychology since 1975. He is trained and certified in both traditional and Ericksonian hypnosis. He is a member in good standing in the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis, National Board For Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists, The International Society For Hypnosis, The American Psychotherapy And Medical Hypnosis Association, and The International Registry Of Professional Hypnotherapists.

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